I like to think that I get some of my toughness and interesting ways of doing things from my dad. A prime example of that is also one of my favorite stories to tell of him.
Dad and I were in the tractor when I was in middle school. It was around this time of year that we would be baling hay at our farm down near the town of Wood. If you’ve ever baled hay, you know that things can get stuck or messy from time to time. We had to get out of the tractor to check on the baler. There was some baling wire that was stuck, so Dad took out his pocket knife to cut it to get it unstuck. When Dad tried to do this, he accidentally cut himself below his left wrist. While he muttered a stream of curse words initially upon injuring himself, he quickly went back to being calm. He took some of those blue shop towels that every farmer seems to have from the tractor, and wrapped up his injury. He proceeded to tape the towels to his arm with duct tape. Dad looked at me and said, “Well, it’s probably time to go back to work, huh?”
Fast forward to over a decade later, and I was in a similar position. I had cut my Achilles tendon on a boat propeller while out on a boat at Lake Okoboji in Iowa. We couldn’t find the first aid kit on the boat, so we wrapped it up in paper towels, and taped it up with electrical tape.
I guess you could say the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree with him and I.
My dad and I both played basketball in high school. He also went to South Dakota State University, which is where I went to school. I took him around campus one day, and he was surprised at how the school had changed in the 30 or so years since he went there.
One thing that my dad taught me is the value of hard work. I would have several events in elementary school, including plays, concerts, baseball and basketball games. My dad rarely if ever made it to any of the things I did, because he was too busy working on the farm. Teenage me was very angry at him for that, but as an adult, I understand why he did what he did. He needed to provide for the family, and he couldn’t do that while at one of my events. It was a tough decision, but it was the right one.
Recently, my dad got in a four-wheeling accident. He sustained a broken rib and a dislocated shoulder. Knowing how tough my dad is, there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll end up being OK.
Before this COVID-19 pandemic derailed everything for a while, Dad and my stepmom Barb came to visit me in the office. Dad couldn’t stop saying my praises. He told everyone how proud he was of me, and that sometimes he can’t believe that his own son can write like he does. We have bales of paper that we print the newspaper on. I joked with my dad that the bales came from a very interesting paper field, and were baled using a John Deere paper baler.
My dad’s birthday is this week. I hope he has as good of a time as he can. After I get done writing this, I’ll probably call him to see how he is doing. As I’m writing this, I’m looking forward to going to tonight’s Trappers game. I’ll see a few kids hanging out with their dads, and that will instantly make me think of mine. When I do, I’m thankful. I’m thankful for all that he’s taught me, and all that he will continue to teach me. If your dad is still with you, feel free to do the same and be thankful for your dad. Hopefully he is as good as mine is, and has taught you a lot of things as well. If I could say one thing to my dad right now, it’d be thank you. You’ve done well as my dad. Now rest up and get well soon.